Spit It Out for Goodness Sakes…with Balance

theatre masksIt took me 40 years (give or take) to understand, identify and immerse myself in what I consider my calling. The pieces all came together and I see clearly how it is the perfect combination of my passions, strengths, challenges and dreams. It wasn’t an easy journey but, damn, it was worth it.

One of the biggest challenges was my directness or bluntness.

Throughout my career I had been “talked to” by managers and mentors about the greatness of my passion and dedication and the “need” to temper. In other words just because I was thinking it didn’t mean I needed to say it. Right or wrong, people don’t always want to hear the truth.

I struggled with that a lot. Isn’t truth supposed to set you free? When I was in compliance it was pretty black and white: you can do this, you can’t do that.

But I was continually being forced into a mold of saying it in a kinder, gentler, more guiding way that was more a manner of suggestion on what should be done, how it should be done or what I wanted.

I don’t really fit into molds. Ok, it is more of I bring a sledgehammer with me to the casting.

But that is the great thing – that directness is a key attribute to what I do now. I tell my clients I do not tell them what they want to hear, rather I tell them what then need to hear. I’m not their wife, I don’t have to stroke their ego – my job is their coach. I tell them what is in their best interest.

The delivery is depended upon the person, sometimes it is a matter of detailed explanation and sometimes it is a matter of full force blunt. Whatever delivery is going to be most effective and align with them because I get to know each one of my clients and how they best learn, grow and receive.

Often I hear that it is very refreshing for someone to be honest in order to help them. Their support system may be trying to gently hint instead of just coming out and telling them what they need to know.

There is a lot of gentle guidance during the job search process for job seekers: given to them and given by them.

When they are in interviews, negotiations or writing cover letters/resumes they try to gently guide the reader to what they want them to know.

Stop it.

Just Spit It Out

If you want something you have to say it. You have to let the other person know who you are, what you have to offer, what you want and what you are willing to do – period. Laying a frame work of little hints does not work. It isn’t enough to try to hint at it. I, personally, suck at hints.

What do you want?

Now, figure out how to say it. I spoke to a client last week about an email he wanted to send a prospective employer. It is in round two of interviews and he really, really wants this job. The original email had an inference in the email that could have been taken as he was still searching for other candidates and possibly not seeing my client in that role. My client was getting a little freaked and wrote an email that had something like: I will be the best employee you will ever have working harder than anyone else, blah, blah, blah.

I immediately told him no. First, you sound desperate. Stop. Second, you are applying for a management position; managers need to be confident leaders. There was no leadership or confidence in that response.

We crafted a response of appreciation for the communication (because it is rare as we all know in this day of job searching) and reiterated his interest in the position. We then addressed the ambiguous statement itself stating something like he was unclear as to what he meant. During the first interview a comment was made about his youth in leadership. So the next statement was a reaffirmation of his ability and tenure of leadership and consistency of results.

The response he got back sent him over the moon. The gentleman clarified that he is definitely interested in him for the management position, it is simply a matter of aligning calendars with the bigger boss and apologized for the miscommunication. The interview will be set for this week.


The balance is between the wishy-washy gentle guidance of hints and desperation.

That is when you need to muster courage. That’s right, dig deep, find that courage and if you have to fake the heck out of it. Be confident in your comments and delivery yet clear in your message. That is balance.

Let me be frank here, you have nothing to lose, so if you are going to do it do it right and give it all you have. Approach each opportunity as the golden opportunity that will not come again. Go for it.

If you do the wishy-washy and it doesn’t happen then you will be disappointed. It is like sending out an open invitation for anyone who wants to come over for pizza and movies to just come on over when in reality you really want to invite one person. You are hoping they see the invitation and invite themselves. They aren’t going to do that dummy.

You have to direct the invitation to the one you want. You have to be clear in your message and take that chance that they say no. What do you have to lose? Nothing. Remember, general invitations don’t work. People want to be wanted, not invite themselves. Seriously.

If someone is interested in you for a job don’t give them a lukewarm maybe interested back or crazy-person desperate I want this more than life itself. Tell them you appreciate their interest, you are very interested in the position, why and reiterate, briefly, why you are the best fit.

Bottom line: if you don’t tell them how are they supposed to know?

Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

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